When we got to Beth's Place everyone was already there hanging around outside handgrazing their ponies. We of course joined in and Lil hoovered grass while us humans chatted excitedly about the coming Parelli Across America Event.
As people started to wander off to tack up or play in the indoor arena, roundpen or on the hillside, Lil and I went to the huge outdoor arena to see how she'd do as everyone left us. Its getting better!
The circling game is where I can see a lot of how she is mentally and emotionally. Can she maintain gait, direction, rhythm and connection to me? Can she not pull on the line or try to change direction every half a lap so she's always heading back to the barn? Can she relax into the movement and curve prettily on the circle hooking onto me as the bullseye?
The slower we go the easier it seems. And yet the blow up can lurk just below the surface. She was fine as usual at the trot. Nice rhythm and connection. Pretty good at the canter actually. Maintained the speed and rhythm nicely and it only took a few laps for the flexion on the circle to "get straight" and for her to connect to me. I loved that she seemed present the whole time and that I could see her tongue as she was licking and chewing.
Gallop is where the drama poked its head out a little bit. Not too bad though. On the long side of the arena I would run straight down the centerline so she could gallop. Then she'd get ahead of me so I would stop my feet. . . she would have to curve her body and slow down to cut across the short side. In this pattern she could make canter gallop canter transitions and I could be relatively passive in asking her to reconnect with me. Its not a circling game of course at that point. More like just a gentle driving game but that's just fine so long as I recognize it.
As she got faster she did a few leaps in the air. Her tail and neck got high and tight. . . . she even kicked out at me once. I did wish I had the 45 with me as there was plenty of room to use it and it would have been EXCELLENT to be able to really let her open up. (note to self to bring it next time because I can only run so fast and cannot seem to keep up with a thoroughbred. lol) In just a few minutes she was blowing and cantering with connection and impulsion (not too fast not too slow). She came back to me and then wanted to eat grass. All of this whilst we were the only ones within eyesight.
We went to find the rest of the gang relaxed and curious about everything. Kip hung out with her while I helped other people with questions. I didn't see it but Kip said she laid down at his feet and took a nap! Later we both rode her. She felt great for me. When I got on she started yawning. How un-freakin-believable is that? Kip said she had improved a lot since he had ridden her last (which I love to hear) and I saw them have a really nice canter.
This all gives me hope that things will be better for our lesson with Linda in Redmond this weekend than they were last year for our Spotlight in Reno. It is important to me that both Pat and Linda see that I've been putting my time in. That all of their investment in me has not been wasted. I'm guessing that Lil will still be scared in front of all those predators. . . but our relationship has improved soooooo much since then . . .I have to trust that Pat is Pat and Linda is Linda and that they will see it. . . . . and I am so excited to get a few more missing puzzle pieces!